World’s largest lithium battery storage facility now completely offline after weekend incident

Proponents of unreliable wind and solar energy often downplay the severe problems created by the fact that wind and solar don’t work very often by arguing that battery storage technology will soon be available to store the power generated by wind and solar when the weather cooperates. There’s a problem, though. It’s never been shown to work at scale.

The world’s largest battery storage facility, the Moss Landing facility in California, is now entirely offline after the battery sprinkler system was initiated as its early detection safety system kicked in. According to Energy Storage News:

An incident which caused batteries to short has taken offline Phase II of Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility in Monterey County, California, the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) project.

Project owner Vistra Energy said yesterday that the 100MW/400MWh expansion phase of the facility now joins the 300MW/1,200MWh Phase I in being out of action, after the incident late on Sunday (13 February). 

New technologies like battery storage will always have a learning curve, and the issues experienced at Moss Landing thus far do not mean that the problems at this facility are unsolvable or that battery storage may never have suitable applications on the grid.

However, the public and elected officials must understand that this will be a messy process that comes with risks. Battery storage is much more expensive than traditional generating sources and can usually only provide around four hours of energy. If policymakers mandate the use of storage technologies before they are ready for prime time because they believe they will be easy to use and inexpensive, we will be in for a very rude awakening later on down the road.